Olympic lifting is so popular these days that anyone spotted clean-and-jerking with good form in the gym gains instant hero status . While lifting platforms (reinforced flooring that allows you to drop a heavy weight without fear of creating an open wound in the floor) used to be the preserve of specialist weightlifting centres, now you will see them in most commercial gyms.
“I’d never actually seen a weightlifting platform before I went into my first lifting gym,” laughs Zoe Smith. “Now even David Lloyd gyms have them. Weightlifting has become… I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say ‘cool’. But, actually, it is pretty cool.”
Smith was 12 years old when she began weightlifting, after her gymnastics coach suggested she was better suited to the power game than the tumbling one. Four years later, he was proved right: “Britain’s strongest schoolgirl” (said the newspapers) won bronze at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, becoming the first Englishwoman to win a weightlifting medal at the Games on her first attempt.
That schoolgirl is now a 21-year-old full-time athlete with her sights set on competing at a second Olympic Games, in Rio. She finished 11th at London 2012, breaking the British clean and jerk record in the process. It is not, however, a given that she will get there.
Great Britain’s weightlifters have not yet performed well enough to secure any spots at the Games this summer. They have just one more chance – at the European Championships in Forde, Norway, which begin on Sunday. There, Smith will lead a 14-strong British team in their bid to qualify places for two lifters (one male, one female) in Rio.
Should all go to plan, GB’s lifters will spend the ensuing months locked in an almighty battle for those two spots. These are anxious times, but Smith is handling them in the same way she does a loaded barbell: with strength, poise and a fierce determination.
Read more at: http://www.sport-magazine.co.uk/features/hipster-lifter#WOAzwizVuYemtGp
Article by: Sarah Shephard
Photography by: Naomi Barker